For rock group Total War, it’s that sentiment that keeps their music alive and flourishing. A three-piece trio formed in Jackson County, the band will be one of the many talented regional acts hitting the stage at the Greening Up the Mountains Festival in Sylva on April 27.
“Most of the bands playing Greening Up primarily or exclusively do their own songs, which is a big deal to me,” said guitarist Jeremy Rose. “Any town in the South can put together a bar band that play a passable ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ or ‘Wagon Wheel.’ Those things are boring, and a lot of people in Jackson County are trying hard to not be boring.”
Formed in 2009, the ensemble, featuring Rose, Ory Petty (bass) and Adam Woleslagle (drums), aims to provide the listener with an intimate sound, one that challenges you to dig a little deeper, for the true reward is in what lies beneath.
“I hope the audience feels connected to both us and the people around them,” Rose said. “I’m a lonely person, I guess, and I can think of times when being at a show with people, or just listening to a great recording, was the only thing that made me feel connected to anyone else in the world.”
A post-rock indie band, Total War puts emphasis on the spontaneity of melodic creation, where what matters most is the moment and the emotion, rather than the idea of making sure every single thing is perfect in a live setting.
“I love that music, even the technically challenging stuff, requires some close listening, so that it bypasses the listener’s brain and hits them right in the gut,” Rose said. “I mean, I spend enough time in my own head, and I like to be moved involuntarily sometimes.”
It’s creating that bond with the listener that is the foundation for the power and importance of music. It’s about standing there as a wave of sound crashes into your soul, stopping you in your tracks, giving another glance at the beauty radiating from the stage.
“I really like living, and I’d feel 99 percent less alive if I didn’t get to meet all these great bands and vibrant people all the time,” Rose said. “Or, heck, I might actually be dead if that were the case. It’s sometimes hard for me to figure out what other people must fill their empty hearts with, if not music.”
Reflecting on the haphazard music industry, Rose throws his aspirations to the cosmos above. Nothing is guaranteed, so why not keep making melodies that mean something to you, then release them onto the world?
“People already don’t buy records and bands struggle to make enough money,” he said. “But, those things will continue to be true and we’re not worried about it at all. Everyone has something melodic to share with the world, if that’s what they want to do.”
And with Greening Up around the corner, Rose has always been impressed with the amount of musical talent that continues to emerge from Sylva and Jackson County as a whole.
“I personally think it’s stunning that a town of Sylva’s size can put on a festival with two stages featuring exclusively local talent, or at least talent with a local connection,” he said. “It’s an extremely creative and ambitious town, and this applies not just to music but to cuisine, visual arts, etcetera. It’s a marvelous place.”